Western UP Trip 2022

View of Copper Harbor from Brockway Mountain Scenic Drive

After a hectic week driving up and down the entire state of Michigan, we arrived back home in Marquette  late Saturday evening. Sister Kathy and her husband, Jim’s Sprinter RV was parked in our driveway, ready for some yooper fun and adventure. Our plans included driving west and north up the Keweenaw Peninsula, touring a copper mine, exploring Copper Harbor, camping two days at Fort Wilkins State Park, and heading further west for our first visit to Porcupine Wilderness State Park. 

High up in Copper Country

The Keweenaw Peninsula

Quincey Mine Tour

Every city in every state owes its existence to a resource discovery and economic boom. Mining and timber attracted prospectors, investors, and hordes of eager workers and their families to the Upper Peninsula.  Most were migrants from European countries. When copper was discovered on the Keweenaw in the early 1800’s, experienced miners from Cornwall were first to arrive. The mines in Cornwall had played out and they were looking for new opportunities. 

We arrived at the Quincey Mine mid-afternoon for a 2-hour tour deep below the surface north of Hancock, Michigan. 

This huge drum, powered by a steam engine, rotated twice per second, pulling carts laden with copper ore from deep within the mine shaft.

During the early years of copper mine, the Keweenaw, work was done solely by hand and explosives. Using all their own equipment, men worked for $1 per day, pounding holes into the rock walls. Explosives were then placed and detonated, and men loaded the copper ore chunks into heavy iron carts to the surface. Later on, as modern technology added power drills (watch the video), fewer men were needed, and more deadly dust was created. You’ll have to visit to learn the whole story

Cart used to haul up copper ore.

Power drill replaced hand drilling, but added noise and deadly dust.

For one dollar a day, and zero prospect of advancement, Sheree and I signed up for a lifetime of dust and darkness.

Ore shafts went deep into the earth at a 45 degree angle.

Your choice, swing the sledge hammer, or hold the spike, six days a week for 10 hours, in candle light, for $1 per day

Your choice, swing the sledge hammer, or hold the spike, six days a week for 10 hours, in candle light, for $1 per day

This now defunct Michigan Tech mining school classroom was drilled into the side of the entrance tunnel, by students.

Copper Harbor and Fort Wilkins State Park

Next, we headed up to Copper Harbor. Even pulling a trailer, I enjoyed the drive over a curvy, rolling highway. Kathy and Jim hosted a yummy dinner at their campsite. We spent the evening getting settled in and planning the next days outings.  In the morning we explored the  Mary McDonald Nature Preserve out near the end of the peninsula, poked around town, explored the fort, and looked for agates.  Our stomachs led us next to the Harbor Haus restaurant. German food, yum!  We thoroughly enjoyed the setting and the food. Halfway through our meal the ferry from Isle Royale National Park glided into the harbor and past the restaurant.  The entire waitstaff went out to greet the weary travelers with a rousing line dance and song. (see the short video)

After dinner we headed up along Brockway Mountain drive to catch the sunset over Lake Superior. Truly one of the most stunning places to watch the sun set. The forest fire smoke did not ruin the sunset, it made it unique. 

German-inspired dinners on the harbor

Interesting rock out-cropping and rock beach. Most all of the small rocks were identical.

The next morning it was time for jam and bread, monk style

“The Jampot sold its first jar of Poorrock Abbey™ preserves, made from wild berries picked near our shop, in 1986. Since that time, we’ve been selling our wild berry preserves and other gourmet jams and jellies to customers from around the world. As the years progressed, we’ve added moist and flavorful fruitcakes, scrumptious muffins and cookies, handmade chocolates and candies, tasty pancake and fruit-and-nut mixes, and speciality grade coffees to our offerings. All of our products are made with the finest local, regional, and organic ingredients we can find.

Our storefront is open seasonally Tuesday through Saturday 10:00 am to 5:00 pm, from May though mid-October.  The Jampot is located near Jacob’s Falls, three mile east of Eagle River and five miles west of Eagle Harbor on Scenic Highway M26 in Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula.

Proceeds from the Jampot, support the vision and works of Holy Protection Monastery, a Byzantine Catholic Monastery.  Learn more by visiting our website societystjohn.com “




Porcupine Wilderness State Park

Have you been to the "Porkies" yet?

We have now, and understand why people kept asking that question. Because of outside events beyond our control we spend only one night at the Presque Isle River campground. We made the best of it, and it was awesome. 

“At roughly 60,000 acres, Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park is Michigan’s largest state park and one of the few remaining large wilderness areas in the Midwest. It’s home to a 35,000-acre old-growth forest, roaring waterfalls, miles of rivers and streams, more than 90 miles of hiking trails, a modern and rustic campground, backcountry camping, the Lake Superior shoreline and unrivaled vistas.” MDNR


And so, that was our little three day tour of the western UP. So much more to see and do. Our next trip will probably be this fall, for the autumn colors. Until next time, be well. 



Sunset from Brockway Mountain

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